• At CFIA, the largest trade fair for the France food industry, which runs until Thursday in Rennes, professionals come to present and discover the latest food trends.
  • Under pressure from consumers and faced with the climate emergency, plant-based alternatives have imposed themselves on the plates with an exploding offer.
  • Food players are also increasingly looking for natural products to replace synthetic additives.

"The future will be natural", "Develop your naturalness", "A healthier and tastier future"... The slogans are displayed large, on almost all the stands. However, we are not in an organic and well-being fair but at CFIA, the largest trade fair for the food industry in France, which is held until Thursday at the Rennes exhibition center. A great raout bringing together thousands of professionals who came to present or discover the latest food trends.

In this respect, it is the plant that has been giving pride of place in recent years with a real explosion of supply. "This is not a fad but a major trend that continues to progress against the backdrop of the climate emergency," observes Etienne Guillocheau, nutrition consultant for the consulting firm Food Innov, based in Rennes.

In the spans of the show, vegetable alternatives are indeed present everywhere to replace beef steak, white ham, tuna, shrimp and even foie gras, with a recipe based on vegetables and nuts. Based in Vitry-en-Artois in the North, the Accro brand launched in 2019 on this market by offering steaks or meatballs, based on pea and wheat proteins grown in France. "The market is exploding in France and throughout Europe, which pushed agri-food players to take this turn two or three years ago," says Julien Dubois, sales representative for the brand.

Spices, plants or vegetables as colouring agents

In this plethoric offer, soy has made room for other foods such as legumes, which are increasingly invited in preparations. "Manufacturers are rediscovering these plants, which have long been set aside in favour of animal proteins," says Etienne Guillocheau.

Less addicted to meat, the agri-food industry is also seeking to restore its image tarnished by several scandals. As consumers are increasingly attentive to the content of labels and in search of healthy products, the actors of the sector are now exploiting the vein of naturalness. "They all want natural ingredients to replace E additives, which consumers are wary of," says Arnaud Clément, head of Raps France. Nearly a century old, this company offers professionals spice blends that act as natural dyes and antioxidants. Other players are also relying on plants or vegetables to replace chemical food colorings.

More natural but also more expensive additives

In 2019, a study by the Health Security Agency showed that the use of additives in the manufacture of agri-food products had decreased overall in ten years. "There is positive consumer pressure here," notes Etienne Guillocheau. But it must also be constructive because agri-food companies have constraints and cannot change the recipe like that by simply replacing one ingredient with another. »

Sales representative in France for the Spanish brand Catalina Food Solution, Aymen Mhiri also warns. "Manufacturers are sometimes burdened by legislation," he says. So we try to find more natural alternatives for their needs. But natural additives are more expensive than synthetic additives. This will therefore necessarily affect the price of products. »

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